A story... However you see this story the bottom line
is about authority. Faith in that authority, right or wrong. Its value,
its limits and abuse. The seeking heart and the closed mind.


Learning How to Study

Authority: One that is an accepted source of expert information.

There was a wiseman who lived in a village far away from the city. All the natives living in and surrounding the village would come to this man because he had the answer to questions concerning the geography of the world. You see, all these people lived in a valley surrounded by mountains. It was assumed as fact that the mountains were the bounderies of the world and nothing existed beyond the mountains except for the stars, sun, moon, and clouds. Having such a small view of the planet they were not aware that a city existed on the other side of the mountains. If the people had a question concerning the world they would go to the wiseman and ask him for the answer.

This wiseman was no slacker. He roamed the valley every day of his life to learn all he could about his world. There wasn't a tree, stone, creek, cliff, or anything else in the valley on this side of the mountains that he was not aware of its existence. He knew the bounderies of everyone's land... past and present. Everyone in the valley looked to him as the premier wiseman when it came to knowing the land. No one would dispute anything he said for he was never shown to be wrong. He was one that was an accepted source of expert information by all those who lived in or around the village.

When the wiseman was approached by someone with a hard question he could only give his theory on the subject. Such as... all the creeks run into streams... the streams into the river... the river passes between the mountains... but then were is it going? The wiseman never having travelled the river through the mountains did not know the answer... but he had a theory... !

The water would fall into space, be heated by the sun to create a steam, that would come back over the mountains as clouds and fall upon the world again, then would repeat over and over again. When the sun grew cold in the sky there would be little or no rain for a season. When it got hot again... there would be more rain. Since the answer made "sense" to the people, and he was the wiseman, this was accepted as truth for no one knew the world as well as the wiseman.

One day a man was seen coming down between two mountains into the valley. One courageous villager approached the stranger and asked him who he was and where did he come from? The stranger answered him that he was a traveller from the city and followed the river until it got to the mountains. Not being able to go any further by way of the river he climbed between two of the mountains and came down to this valley. The villager was shocked! He brought the stranger to the wiseman and all the valley people came to see what was going on. When the stranger repeated his claim the people were filled with unbelief and confusion. They looked to the wiseman, the authority about the world and waited to hear what he would say.

The wiseman thought through all that was said and proclaimed a new theory. The stranger was not a man but a being from heaven made to look like a man. He is here to bring you through the pass in the mountains and fall to your deaths in the emptiness beyond. Concerned for the children in the valley who may follow the stranger (they are a curious bunch) he said it was too dangerous to let the stranger roam the valley. Wanting to protect the children he judged the man and had him executed in the village square. No one argued or tried to stop the wiseman. After all... he knew everything there is to know about the world... surely this stranger was evil to say the things that he did.

In time other strangers came to the valley and they too were judged in the same fashion and killed in the village square. Yet, there was one person who lived in the valley who wondered if what the strangers were saying was true. He tried to convince others to come with him through the pass in the mountains to the other side but they out of fear of the wiseman and his judgement would not go. Others mocked him. Even the wiseman threatened him with prison if he continued to talk of such matters.

One night this man gathered all his courage and climbed through the pass in the mountains. When the path began to descend he halted for the night and slept. After all... if the wiseman was right he could easily step off the world in this darkness and fall forever through space. The rising sun awakened the sleeping man and before his eyes he saw a plain much larger than the valley he had left. The river ran into the distance and dissapeared from view. He also observed something peculiar in the plain and began his descent into the plain to go see what this thing was.

It was much further than he first thought. As he approached he began to make out tall buildings almost as high as the mountains behind him. Closer still and houses appeared. Closer still and people walking about. A women approached him and asked if she could help. He asked her, "what is this place"? She responded, "the city".

Then he understood and believed what the strangers to the valley had been saying all along. That the world was a much greater place than the wiseman knew. When the authorities of the city questioned the young man about who he was and where did he come from, they decided to mount an expedition to the valley. Some of the expedition were armed in case there was a conflict with the valley people.

Upon entering the valley they saw strange plants never before seen. There were rock formations unknown to them. Even seen in the trees was a creature never before observed by the city people. The man from the valley said it was called a "squirrel". This delighted all the wisemen among them for now their knowledge could be increased. Continuing toward the village the valley people began to see the strangers and follow them to the square.

Once the expedition arrived they were confronted by the wiseman of the valley. He argued with the strangers and would have them killed except for the strange and awesome weapons they carried. Others then began to listen to the strangers. The man who left the valley and returned then spoke to the village people about what he had seen beyond the mountains. Not all believed but some did. When the expedition left many of those people who believed went with them.

After a time there was much traffic between the city and valley people. In time knowledge grew in both communities. You see, no one in the city or the valley knew more about the valley than the wiseman. He was still approached with questions by all who wanted to know of the valley for there was no greater authority then he. Yet for all other things the valley people would go to the authorities in the city... for no others were as wise as they concerning the rest of the world..... The End

When reading over this story I began to wonder whether or not the point I was trying to make would be seen by others who would read it as well. To some it will be a story with no moral... to others, the moral will be clearly seen. You may see yourself as the wiseman, a valley inhabitant or the lone man who first left the valley. Perhaps some will see themselves as one of the city people who came to the valley or a part of the city expedition later on. Some may even see this as an allegory about earth and heaven.

However you see this story the bottom line is about authority. Faith in that authority, right or wrong. Its value, its limits and abuse. The seeking heart and the closed mind. It is my hope that in time you will see "all" of the story. Give it some thought.

Joseph Raymond - webmaster
30 June, 1999

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